Allow me to give you a glimpse into the town that boasts the most hours of sunshine in all of New Zealand:
Nelson is located at the top of New Zealand’s South Island. While I grew up in Papua, Nelson is the town where I was born, the place where my family would always come during breaks from Indonesia, where I have many relatives, and where our wedding will be. So if I have to pick a place where I “come from” I say it is Nelson.
The best time of the year to visit Nelson is December to late March, though honestly Nelson’s weather is pretty decent year round. People often describe the climate as “Mediterranean-like.” The area is home to many alternate lifestylers, crafters, musicians, etc, making the atmosphere a relaxed and eclectic one.
Where To Stay
If you come to Nelson during peak season you will need to book your accommodations early, because tourists will be flocking here in high numbers (trust me…try finding accommodations for wedding guests during this time!). However, there is a wide range of options for you to choose from, perfect for any budget. From five star hotels, to motor lodges, to homestays and B&Bs, to caravans and camping grounds, you are sure to find a place to stay that works for you. Frankly, the choices are overwhelming, but here are a few of my favourite options to give you a taste of what’s on offer:
- The Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco Resort is ideal for those couples seeking luxury during their stay in Nelson. It has won awards in NZ for its quality, and its Orangerie Restaurant serves top-notch locally sourced cuisine. I just may be a bit biased towards this resort as well – it is where Mr E and I will be spending our wedding night! So you know it must be good.
- Tahuna Beach Holiday Park – Choice is everything here. Whether you are looking for a camping spot, self-catered accommodation, or a comfy cabin without a hefty price tag, this place is for you with its wide range of budget accommodation options.The location of the holiday park is ideal as well as it is within walking distance from the beach and many restaurants.
You can find more examples of accommodations in Nelson here. Another useful resource is this site which lists houses that Nelson residents rent out to holiday-makers during the summer.
To See & Do
At the risk of sounding cliche, there really is something for everyone in Nelson. Here is just a short list of things you might find interesting:
- Wine-tasting at one of the many boutique wineries in the region. A quick Google search can give you a list of wineries to choose from, or you can pick up pamphlets with info on various wine tours from the Nelson City Information centre. The Nelson region produces some of the best sauvignon blanc in the world.
- Visit one of the nearby National Parks. In Abel Tasman National Park you can enjoy guided tours, catch a cruise around the coastline, go kayaking, hike on one of the many trails, swim at a secluded beach, and more. It is a great place to experience some of New Zealand’s most renowned natural settings firsthand.
- You can also make the drive (about an hour and a half) to Lake Rotoiti. Tthe lake can be cold even on a good day, but is absolutely gorgeous and you will be able to go fishing, take a stroll around the shoreline, and maybe hike up Mt. Robert (right next to the lake) if you are so inclined.
- There are a variety of weekend farmers’ markets held around the Nelson area. Ask at the Information Centre for details of these, as their locations and starting times can change seasonally. These are great places to view and purchase work by local artisans, listen to a live band, and try some local produce.
I think you get the picture; there are a lot of things to do in Nelson! Far too many to list in one post.
Food & Drink
Nelson is famous for its seafood, wines, dairy products, and fruit; it’s great for a foodie honeymoon. It is prime farming country, so the amount of fresh food available is incredible. As well as local offerings, the town also enjoys a wide range of ethnic restaurants, as many residents of Nelson originate from around the world.
My personal favourite places to wine and dine:
- The Boatshed Cafe- Right on the waterfront, specialising in seafood with incredible dishes incorporating some of Nelson’s best produce, and offering a wide selection of Nelson wines…need I say more?
- 623- Their gluten-free chocolate cake is the best. cake. evarrrrr. Seriously. I would do a lot to have even one mouthful of that cake. I enjoyed my 21st birthday celebration at this restaurant and was not disappointed. Very well-priced, and they give HUGE portions. Definitely a new-husband-pleaser.
The Cake of Awesomen-ness (Personal Pic)
- I will reiterate that Hotel Monaco and The Honest Lawyer (see links in the “Where to Stay” section) offer award-winning grub (grub= NZ slang for food). Not the cheapest options, but great for a romantic night out.
- Smugglers Pub & Cafe- A great place to relax and have a beer or two with a hearty meal. Trust me, you won’t go hungry from this place! And the location is great too, right next to the beach, so after dinner you can enjoy a moonlit stroll perhaps.
I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Nelson’s streetside cafe culture in this post. Cafes are very important to the kiwi lifestyle, and scores of them can be found throughout the city. Enjoy crepes at Cafe La Creperie, have a cuppa and a sausage roll at Robert Harris, or enjoy a lazy lunch in the sunshine at Cafe Kudos. To finish off, why not try some award-winning gelato at the Penguino Ice Cream Cafe? We kiwis take our ice cream very seriously so I doubt you will be disappointed. My pick is their ultra-smooth lemon gelato.
Central Nelson: absolutely packed with cafes of every sort
Well, there you have it. A brief guide to what you might experience in Nelson should you choose to come here on your honeymoon.
As always, if you have any questions, would like to know more, or are planning on coming here sometime then feel free to drop me a line!
See all the posts in the Honeymoon in my Hometown Series here!